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French police fire tear gas at English fans in Lille

Leon Neal, AFP | French police fire tear gas to disperse supporters outside a bar in Lille, northern France, on June 15, 2016.

Police used tear gas to disperse crowds of rowdy football fans on Wednesday in the northern city of Lille, where thousands of Russian and English fans have gathered to support their teams at Euro 2016.

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Riot squad members fired tear gas and then charged a group of English fans in the northern French city, ahead of England's next match in nearby Lens on Thursday.

Reporters said a group of about 200 English fans had been getting progressively rowdier and noisier, singing songs taunting Russia, when an explosion was heard and some bottles were thrown.

That was followed by a large mass movement of fans chased by riot police. Police appeared to make at least one arrest, pinning a man against the ground

An AFP reporter saw one fan being treated on the ground. Paramedics appeared to be carrying out cardiac massage

Authorities had flooded the city with police fearing a repeat of the riots that marred last week's game between England and Russia in the southern city of Marseille, where dozens of people were injured and one Briton was left in a coma.

Officials said they would deport four Russians who were detained before Wednesday's game between Russia and Slovakia, which the Russians lost 2-1.

"Two of the Russians were arrested yesterday evening during a fight in Lille and two after being found drunk in a car with weapons," a spokesperson at the Lille prefecture said. The weapons were wooden sticks, a police source said.

"Today, the measure is very simple: flood the public space with police so that there is no room for any form of hooliganism," Sports Minister Patrick Kanner said.

Russia summons French envoy

In Moscow, Russia's Foreign Ministry said it had summoned French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert on Wednesday.

The French envoy was notified about "discrimination" towards Russian citizens, it said, adding that "further fanning of anti-Russian sentiments" could damage relations between France and Russia.

A spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry confirmed the envoy had been summoned but made no further comment.

Both Russia and England have been threatened with expulsion from the competition after the Marseille clashes.

President Vladimir Putin and security officials have discussed what lessons Russia can learn from the Euro 2016 for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the RIA news agency quoted the Kremlin as saying.

"We cannot close our eyes to the absolutely provocative actions by supporters from other countries," Lavrov told parliament.

"You have probably seen the outrageous images on TV when the Russian flag is getting stamped on and when insults are being screamed about the Russian (political) leadership and about leading Russian sports people."

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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